Without their troubles to seek this week with poor form, off field issues and injuries, Queens pulled together a much improved performance away to title challenging Dundee in horrible conditions but still returned pointless following Craig Beattie`s dramatic late winner for the home side.
Manager Jim McIntyre made five changes to the side that scrambled a draw at home to Cowdenbeath last week. Out went the injured Calum Antell along with Ryan McGuffie, Andy Dowie, Dan Carmichael and Derek Lyle. In came new loan goalkeeper Zander Clark along with Chris Mitchell, Mark Durnan, Kevin Dzierzawski and Gavin Reilly. For the hosts, Craig Beattie was fit enough only for a seat on the bench but otherwise they were first choice.
Queens made the brighter start and probably controlled most of the early play, Mark Durnan heading over a good chance from a free kick six minute in. At the other end Zander Clark got the chance to show his quality when gavin Rae unleashed a shot from 25 yards that was turned wide. Gradually though the home side came into things and probably controlled most of the play in the second part of the half. Higgins was fortunate to avoid a booking for a cynical foul on MacDonald and Clark did well to turn away the resulting Conroy free kick. He had to make an even better save from the same player`s opportunist strike soon after, though Dundee were still largely being restricted to long range shots. Just before the break Durnan picked up a booking for a dangerous looking tackle on Conroy and as both sides tried to get their noses in front before the break, both defences were worked hard. First Letheren fumbled a Reilly shot but the defence cleared the rebound before any Queens player could reach it. At the other end Holt did well to block a goalbound Riley effort and just befre the interval, Paton broke throuhg from a wide angle and beat Letheren with a ball across the face of goal but again it was hacked away before Russell could turn it in.
Reilly beats Letheren but the ball is cleared by the last man
The second half started as the first half finished, with Michael Paton going close, this time with a long range effort narrowly past the post. Dundee were looking more dangerous though and Jim McAlister looked set to score on 56 minute only for the ball to stick under his feet in the sodden turf and allow the defence to get back to him. Paton picked up a slight injury shortly afterward stretching to make a defensive tackle and so Danny Carmichael replaced him on the hour mark. Soon after Queens almost snatched the lead as a low cross was missed by Russell but surprised Gary Irvine so much he turned the ball past his own keeper. He was unbelievably fortunate to see it hit his own crossbar and bounce clear.
Russell watches his deflected effort crash onto the bar
With Queens starting to look reasonably comfortable at 0-0 John Brown decided to take a gamble on Beattie`s fitness to try to win the game and it paid off big time for him ultimately with the former international at the heart of both their goals after replacing starlet Craig Wighton. Before he could get a foothold in the game though Queens nearly grabbed the lead as Carmichael seized on a defensive error to burst into the box and fire just wide across the face of goal. Derek Lyle then replaced the tiring Gavin Reilly on 73 minutes.
Dundee grabbed the lead with 12 minutes remaining though after Clark saved from Craig Beattie`s shot but failed to either hold the ball or get it out of play. Peter MacDonald was first to react to the loose ball and turned it into the net from an acute angle. We were not behind for long though as the side showed great attitude to battle straight back. Mitchell made ground down the right and fired in a low cross that was dummied at the near post, wrongfooting the defence and leaving Derek Lyle with a relatively simple task to turn the ball past the stranded Letheren.
Derek Lyle celebrates his strike in front of the Bobby Cox Stand
A draw would have been a fair result for the efforts of both sides on a soaking wet pitch but sadly for us it wasn`t to be. With the clock ticking onto 89 minutes, the ball fell for Peter MacDonald in the penalty area. his shot on the turn was charged down but the rebound fell perfectly on the edge of the box for Craig Beattie to strike on the half volley into the net from 18 yards giving Clark no chance.
Beattie seals it for Dundee despite Clark`s best efforts
So some encouragement could be taken from an improved performance at a difficult venue but it was still another three points lost and results elsewhere drop us into the bottom two. It`s important we get something at Alloa next weekend.